Chapter 1: Support strategies

Strategies to help children feel safe and secure

The expert says
Andrea Warnick, children's grief therapist, speaks about balancing routine with capturing precious remaining time.(3:22)Video transcript
The expert says
Andrea Warnick, children's grief therapist, talks about the importance of maintaining rules and routines.(3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
David speaks about supporting his grieving son during his return to school.(3:22)Video transcript

After my husband died, everyone felt so badly for the kids that the rules went out the window. In the long run it made parenting on my own much more difficult.


Day-to-day life can be seriously disrupted when a family member is dying or has died. Maintaining routines, limits and expectations as much as possible will help your children feel safe and secure.   



Keep routines as regular as possible. For example:

  • Continue with school and daycare.
  • Keep a regular bedtime.


Limits and expectations

Try to be consistent and predictable. It’s easier for children to control their behaviour when they know their parent always responds the same way. For example:

  • When a child receives the same consequence every time they hit a family member, they’ll stop this behaviour much more quickly than the child who sometimes gets away with it.



Try not to overindulge your children over a long period of time. For example:

  • Some people try to ease children’s grief by showering them with gifts. 
  • This can create unrealistic expectations which can create additional challenges for parents.

While it may seem caring to indulge grieving children, they benefit most from the time and attention of adults who are emotionally available to them.